The Final Solution
  • The Final Solution
  • The Final Solution

The Final Solution

3.4 23
by Michael Chabon
     
 

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In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, prose magician Michael Chabon conjured the golden age of comic books, interwining history, legend and story-telling verve. In The Final Solution, he has condensed his boundless vision to create a short, suspenseful tale of compassion and wit that re-imagines the classic 19th-century detective story.

In deep retirement

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Overview

In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, prose magician Michael Chabon conjured the golden age of comic books, interwining history, legend and story-telling verve. In The Final Solution, he has condensed his boundless vision to create a short, suspenseful tale of compassion and wit that re-imagines the classic 19th-century detective story.

In deep retirement in the English countryside, an 89-year old man, vaguely recollected by the locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his bookkeeping than his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African grey parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out-a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts? Or do they hold a significance at once more prosaic and far more sinister?

Though the solution to this last case may be beyond even the reach of the once famed sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is subtly revealed to the reader in a wrenching resolution to this brilliant homage. The Final Solution is a work from a master story-teller at the height of his powers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Initially published in the Paris Review in 2003, Chabon's first significant adult fiction since his Pulitzer-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000) continues his sophisticated, if here somewhat skewed, appropriation of pop artifacts-in this case one of the greatest pop artifacts of all, Sherlock Holmes. As fans of the great detective know, after retirement Holmes moved from London to Sussex, where he spent his days keeping bees. Chabon's story takes place during WWII, when Holmes is 89 and intent on bee-keeping only-until a mysterious boy wanders into town. The boy is remarkable for two reasons: he's clearly intelligent but is mute, and he keeps a parrot that mouths, among other utterances, numbers in German. When the parrot is stolen, local cops turn to Holmes, and he's intrigued enough to dust off his magnifying glass and go to work. The writing here is taut and polished, and Chabon's characters and depictions of English country life are spot on. It's notable, though, that Chabon refers to Holmes never by name but persistently as "the old man"-notable because it's difficult to discern a reason other than self-conscious artistry not to name Holmes; the scenes in the novel that grip the strongest are those that feature Holmes, and more credit is due to Conan Doyle than to Chabon for that. Neither a proper mystery nor particularly fine literature, this haunting novella, for all its strengths, lies uneasily between the two and will fully please few fans of each. (Nov. 12) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Roused out of retirement, a former detective, now a beekeeper, is identified only as "the old man." The story opens in the summer of 1944 when he sees a boy with a parrot on his shoulder walking along the train tracks. The boy is Linus Steinman, a refugee from Nazi Germany who lives with Mr. and Mrs. Panicker and their grown son in their boardinghouse. Though Linus doesn't speak, his parrot, Bruno, recites strings of numbers in German, as well as bits of poetry and snatches of songs. When a boarder is murdered and Bruno is kidnapped, the local police try to engage the beekeeper in helping them solve the crimes. He agrees to help, but only to find the bird. Thus begins his last case, his "final solution." The double meaning of the title gives subtle layers to the story and reveals the man's deep compassion for Linus. Chabon's writing can be both startlingly clear or laced with intricacies and detours. One chapter is told from the point of view of the parrot. Readers will enjoy the realistic characters and lush descriptions, and, best of all, trying to figure out the mysteries. Even the identity of "the old man" is a mystery until they figure out the clues for themselves-the tweed suit, the pipe, the beekeeping, and the sharp mind that can only belong to one famous sleuth.-Susanne Bardelson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In wartime England, an old sleuth comes out of retirement to solve the case of a mute boy and his parrot, and their connection to a murder. Chabon's move into the world of detective fiction (after The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 2000, etc.) produces mostly admirable results. The year is 1944, the setting a remote British village. The retired detective who lives there in rather fearsome solitude-tending to his beekeeping-is brought back to work by the local constabulary after a recent visitor to the village turns up murdered. It's suspected by some that another new arrival to the village may have something to do with the case. Nine-year-old Linus is a mute German-Jewish boy who stays at a local rooming house and is mostly known for the German-speaking parrot that's never far from his shoulder. The sleuth soon realizes that issues of national security could be involved here, with spies and code-breaking a la The 39 Steps, and he has to bring all his analytical skill to bear. That he's an impressive detective is a fact definitely agreed upon by the police, as it is by the author himself, who drops more than a few hints that the quiet old man, whose name seems to never come up, could be the great Sherlock Holmes himself, sans Watson. The result might be less than what Chabon fans would like to see, and also less than hard-core mystery readers would prefer. Nor does a slow start help matters any. Still, though what we have here is definitely Chabon in a minor key, he hasn't spared any effort in its execution. The English countryside is engagingly detailed, a trip to London under the Blitz especially effective in its somber tone of wartime malaise. A fun, short snip of a detective yarnthat, even so, leaves more questions than answers. Agent: Mary Evans/Mary Evans Inc.
Christian Science Monitor
“Michael Chabon, is, simply, the coolest writer in America.”
Denver Post
“A knockout…you’ll be done before you know it. Then you might well read it again.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Packed with gorgeous writing…a knockout. You’ll be done before you know it. Then you might well read it again.”
Baltimore Sun
“The writing is everything that Chabon’s fans expect--gorgeous, muscular, mildly melancholic…wonderfully executed.”
Hartford Courant
“Simple and startlingly sad…Chabon has created a minor masterpiece.”
San Francisco Chronicle (Best Books of 2004)
“Chabon’s writing here is elegant and limber…[The Final Solution] is a little mystery story with big ideas.”
BookPage
“Exuberant…the real mystery is how Chabon managed to fit so much hope and humanity into such a brief tale.”
Louisville Courier Journal
“Delightful…and deceptively profound...Chabon shows his greatness.”
New York magazine
“A profound pleasure.”
Buffalo News
“Infused with a graceful, elegiac atmosphere…wrought with innovative construction, glittering with epiphany…remarkable.”
The Forward
“Brilliant and unswervingly entertaining.”
The New York Sun
“One of the best-written American novels published this fall . . . an experiment by a master.”
Miami Herald
“Watching Chabon skillfully zigzag between literary and genre is half the fun of the book…refreshing.”
(Best Books of 2004) - San Francisco Chronicle
"Chabon’s writing here is elegant and limber…[The Final Solution] is a little mystery story with big ideas."
New York Magazine
"A profound pleasure."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060763404
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/09/2004
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
316,060
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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